The top 5 running backs Duke football must face in 2024 season

These five running backs will present a huge test for the Duke football team's defense in the 2024 season.
Duke v North Carolina
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Stopping the run. It's as essential to winning football games as any other aspect of the sport. That's why the Duke football program has its hands full in 2024 given that some of the nation's best running backs are on the Blue Devils' schedule.

Last season, Duke was respectable against the run. Giving up an average of 141.9 yards per game on the ground, Duke ranked 45th nationally and fifth in the ACC in run defense.

Of course, this year will see a new coaching staff bring a new scheme to Durham. How will that impact the Blue Devils' ability to combat opposing rushing attacks?

New head coach Manny Diaz was the defensive coordinator at Penn State last season. There, his defense was tops in the NCAA against the run giving up only 75.5 yards per game on the ground.

Now, given the disparity between the caliber of players that Diaz had at Penn State and those he'll have at Duke, no one is expecting the Blue Devils to have a top-10 rush defense in the nation in 2024. However, given the pedigree Diaz has as a defensive guru, it isn't out of the question to believe that the Duke defense will be able to be competitive in the first year of the new coaching staff's tenure.

Still, it won't be easy for Duke to stand up against the run because some of the nation's best running backs call the ACC home. Let's take a look at the top five running backs the Blue Devils have to stop this season.

Senior. Duke. . player. . . Lawrance Toafili. 5. 435. Lawrance Toafili

Helping the Florida State Seminoles replace Trey Benson, who is off to the NFL, will be senior Lawrance Toafili. A 6-foot, 196-pounder, he is an explosive athlete who has a rushing and receiving TD of at least 70 yards in his career. Duke fans might remember the 73-yard TD run because it came against the Blue Devils in 2020.

Last year, Toafili got only 69 carries. Still, he racked up 463 yards and four TDs. That's an average of 6.7 yards per carry.

Despite his pedestrian numbers, he finds his way onto this list based on potential over productivity. He's never had more than 93 carries in a season and he's yet to top the 500-yard plateau.

A versatile back, he also has 67 career receptions for 690 yards and four TDs. Last year, as the FSU passing attack was devastated by the loss of starting QB Jordan Travis, he still caught 21 passes for 186 yards in limited action.

This season, Oregon State transfer DJ Uiagalelei will QB the FSU offense and bring a veteran presence to the Seminole attack. However, Toafili is going to get his shot to shine as the starting running back and if he lives up to his potential, he could be one of the breakout stars in the ACC.